|About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search|
There was peace in Eä for some time afterwards, though Manwë insisted on keeping vigilance. All agreed that Melkor would not give up easily. All worried about what he might try next but as there was nothing anyone could do to actually prepare for an attack, most put it out of their minds and concentrated on bringing Atháraphelun to fruition.
They spent some time examining the other planets in the system, each Vala showing off their particular creation. Aulë showed off his new forge while Irmo and Estë explained why they chose to create a desert world. "Deserts are very calming to the fëa," Irmo said. "There is something about deserts that speaks to the very emptiness at the heart of every fëa."
"The emptiness wherein Atar can be found," added Estë and they all nodded, understanding what she meant.
Everyone teased Námo and Vairë about their planet.
"It looks as if you couldn’t make up your minds what kind of planet you wanted," Irmo said with a smile.
"We decided to create a planet that expresses our joy in the coming of the Children," Námo said with a sniff.
"And we wanted something that we both could agree on," Vairë added with a grin.
They all laughed at that. "It does help when one is espoused to find some common ground," Manwë replied with a knowing smile as he took Varda into his embrace. The two of them glowed serenely, their aurae mingling, creating a pleasing blue-white hue.
"So when will we see you two espoused?" Varda asked.
"Well... we haven’t... I mean... we’re not...." Námo silently cursed himself as several kinds of fool stumbling over the words.
"He means he hasn’t formally asked me yet," Vairë interjected coyly.
"I don’t know," Oromë said with a smirk. "It certainly looked as if you’d proposed the way the two of you were kissing just now."
"If you think that was a kiss, my lord," Maranwë spoke up from his guard position, looking far too pleased with himself, "you didn’t see them when they were supposed to be hiding. My brethren and I could see them glowing from three star systems away with a dust cloud in between. I had to... um... reprimand them."
"Maranwë," Námo growled as the other Ayanumuz started laughing. "You’re forgetting your place."
Maranwë gave his lord a mock look of surprise and his aura brightened with mischief as he proceeded to rattle off the exact spatiotemporal coordinates of his position relative to Námo. That set everyone, except Námo, laughing again. Irmo gave his brother a hug. "He’s got you there, brother," he said and began tickling him. Then Oromë joined him until the two of them had Námo laughing and begging for them to stop. After that they all moved on to examine the gas giants and Oromë’s triple planetary system. Every planet was unique, even the so-called twin planets created by Ulmo and Nienna and all rejoiced in the various jewels that would now adorn Atháraphelun’s skies. As they worked on Atháraphelun itself, they often took time off to play amongst the other planets in the system, exploring their many different and unique qualities.
In spite of the levity exhibited between Námo and his Chief Máya, Maranwë was worried. He and his brethren had watched their lord with Rushirithir and while they would say nothing against Námo, they admitted amongst themselves their shock and dismay at the brutality of Námo’s attack on the fallen Máya. Vairë’s Máyar were equally dismayed to learn that their mistress had not only not stopped Lord Námo but had actually helped him by keeping Rushirithir from escaping. Yet, neither Námo nor Vairë exhibited any signs of remorse for what they had done. That worried their Máyar even more to the point where Maranwë and Therindë approached Manwë and Irmo about it.
"I know that both of them suffered terribly while in captivity," Maranwë told Manwë, "but there was something not right in the way they... punished Rushirithir."
"In what way?" Manwë asked with a frown.
Maranwë hesitated, hating to speak against any of the Ayanumuz, but most especially against his own liege lord, yet there had been a level of callousness to his master’s plan that distressed the Máya in a way he could not quite articulate even to himself. "They showed no emotion," he finally said. "My lord Námo’s aura was nearly invisible and Lady Vairë’s aura was equally dark. It was almost as if they weren’t there... that someone else was lashing out at Rushirithir."
Manwë and Irmo exchanged concerned glances before Irmo spoke. "That is indeed troubling. You think they had... shut themselves away from their emotions so they could better do what they did?"
Maranwë nodded. "When he was finished, my lord casually stripped all of the Dark Máyar of their force whips and threw them into the black hole and then they just left to meet us at the next rendezvous point."
"How is it you know all of this if you were not there?" Manwë asked, his tone somewhat abrupt.
Maranwë’s aura darkened somewhat in chagrin. "I... I disobeyed my lord’s command and did not flee with my brethren. I stayed within the vicinity of the black hole, though no one paid me any mind."
"Why did you disobey your lord?" Irmo asked, wondering if there would be rebellion among Námo’s Máyar.
Now Maranwë appeared distraught and Therindë wrapped herself around him to comfort him. "I... I didn’t want to leave him alone," he finally answered. "He shouldn’t have been left alone with... with them."
There was no doubt in their minds who ‘them’ were. Manwë frowned. "Vairë was there," he pointed out in a reasonable tone. "He was hardly alone."
"Neither of them should have been left alone with our fallen brethren," Therindë now spoke for the first time. "I am glad Maranwë was there even if no one else knew."
They all turned to see Námo standing there. Maranwë’s aura went absolutely red with distress and he began to stammer an abject apology which Námo waved away. "I do not blame you Maranwë," he said. "I don’t say that I’m not disappointed that you disobeyed me, but I understand why you did and I appreciate your concern for me... for us, but I assure you that there is no need. Neither Vairë nor I feel we did anything wrong. Rushirithir got what he deserved, nothing more."
"It almost sounds as if you were seeking revenge, not justice, brother," Irmo said coldly. "And who are you to decide what Rushirithir or anyone else deserves?"
"You have no idea what he did to me," Námo retaliated with more emotion than he had been exhibiting. "You don’t know what I was made to do!"
"Only because you will not speak of it," Irmo rejoined, "though given what we saw when we found you, I can guess."
"Guess, but never know. No one knows and no one will." By now Námo’s aura was going incandescent with pent-up anger.
"Except Atar," Manwë said with equanimity. "Perhaps this is something you should take up with Atar."
"There is nothing to take up, Manwë," Námo practically shouted. "We did nothing wrong." With that he vanished, leaving them feeling nonplused at the vehemence of his response.
After a moment, Manwë turned to Therindë. "And you, my dear," he asked solicitously, "how have you fared, for you too were held captive by Melkor along with your mistress?"
"I am well, lord," Therindë answered. "Unlike my mistress, I was left alone... well, except by Acairis, but her taunting was petty and I ignored it. My greatest distress was being unable to protect my mistress from Melkor’s... amusements."
They all grimaced at that and Manwë sighed. "Thank you, my daughter," he said, then addressed both Máyar. "Perhaps you should return to your duties. My fellow Ayanumuz and I will deal with your master and mistress if there should be a need."
The two Máyar gave Manwë and Irmo their obeisance and left. For a long moment there was silence between the two Ayanumuz, then Manwë looked at Irmo. "Let’s consult with Estë and your sister about this. Námo’s reaction to our questioning disturbs me."
"And me," Irmo said sadly. "I fear for my brother and Vairë if this issue is not faced sooner rather than later."
Manwë agreed as he summoned Estë and Nienna to him.
"We did nothing wrong," Námo insisted to Vairë as the two of them sat beside a lake on their planet. It was almost identical to the one on the planet that Vairë had taken Námo. They were incarnate, enjoying the perpetual night that existed on this and every other planet in the system without the light of a star. The planet itself was surrounded by a force field and its core provided all the heat necessary to allow plant life to exist, though there were no animals.
Vairë leaned against Námo and idly began twisting the ends of his blue-black hair. "No, we did not," she said in agreement. "They have no need to be concerned for us. Rushirithir was becoming annoying and I for one am glad he finally got a taste of what he did to you."
"And to you," Námo said, looking down at her with a sad smile. "I know you don’t talk about it, but I see it in your eyes."
Vairë shrugged. "There’s nothing to tell," she rejoined, though Námo noticed she would not look at him directly and her expression was set. He sighed and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"I still have moments when I’m back there," he told her softly. "I’ll be going about my work and suddenly I’ll be back in the cave and Melkor...." But he couldn’t continue and without conscious volition he found himself weeping, great wracking sobs of anguish and pain. Vairë clung to him and rocked him, hoping to comfort him, but it was as if the wall of ice she had built around her own emotions concerning her captivity was breached by her lover’s tears and she began weeping as well.
The tears did not last long and soon she was calm again, but Námo’s weeping continued and she became alarmed, for she could not seem to reach him and nothing she did seemed to calm him. Then, Irmo, Estë and Nienna were there, surrounding them, their expressions ones of deep concern. Vairë looked up at them, her face a mask of distress.
"He won’t stop," she cried. "I can’t get him to stop."
Estë reached down and took Vairë into her embrace even as Irmo and Nienna knelt on either side of Námo and cradled him between them. Nienna’s own tears began to flow as she held her brother while Irmo quietly hummed a lullaby.
"Weep, Námo," Nienna whispered. "Weep for the innocence and joy of which you have been robbed. Weep, brother, and in your weeping find cleansing from all the darkness that still clings to your fëa."
Námo continued to weep for a little while longer, but finally the flow of tears ebbed and then stopped altogether, though Nienna’s own tears did not abate immediately. Sister and brother continued to cradle their sibling, as Námo slipped into healing sleep. All this time, Estë continued to hold Vairë in her own embrace and rocked her, crooning something soft and comforting to the younger Ayanuz’s spirit until she was quiescent. Gently, Estë eased Vairë to the ground and soon the two tortured souls were both asleep while the other three Ayanumuz softly sang a lullaby.
Some time later, Námo came awake, feeling a bit confused as to where he was and why he was lying between Irmo and Nienna. He had no memory of them appearing, only of having a sudden need to weep. His last memory was of feeling Vairë embracing him. He looked up at his siblings who watched him with concerned expressions.
"What happened?" he whispered, surprised at how hoarse his throat felt.
"I think you suffered a crisis," Irmo replied softly. "You and Vairë both."
"Vairë? Is she...." He struggled to sit up but his siblings held him down.
"She’s fine, Námo," Nienna assured him. "She’s sleeping and Estë is watching over her."
"We’re more concerned for you, brother," Irmo said. "You would not stop weeping."
"How are you feeling now?" Nienna asked.
He had to think about that for a moment or two before answering. "Empty. I feel... empty."
Irmo nodded. "You’ve washed away the... pus of your anger and shame and now you need to fill the wounds to your spirit with something else."
"That’s for you to decide, Námo," Nienna answered. She gave him a shrewd look. "When was the last time you spoke with Atar?"
Námo cringed slightly at her tone. "It’s... been a while," he admitted reluctantly.
"Well, I think it’s time you spoke with him again," she said in a tone of voice that both Námo and Irmo had come to recognize and to ignore at their peril.
Námo sighed and this time when he attempted to sit up his siblings let him. "I don’t think Atar is very happy with me," he said ruefully.
"Probably not," Irmo responded with a slight grin, "but that is not to say that you shouldn’t speak to him."
Námo nodded and glanced over to where he could see Vairë still sleeping in Estë’s arms. He looked at his brother and sister, his expression suddenly shy. "Will you watch over her for me?"
Nienna smiled and leaned over to plant a kiss on his brow. "You know we will," she replied. "Now why don’t you go and speak with Atar? We’ll still be here when you return."
Námo nodded again and instantly thought himself away. Irmo gave his sister a wry look. "I certainly hope Atar can help him. I want my brother back."
Nienna said nothing, merely nodding, feeling the same.
Námo removed himself only as far as Irmo’s own planet, remembering the words his brother and Estë had spoken concerning finding Atar in the emptiness which the desert evoked. For a long time he merely wandered across sand dunes and through deep valleys, roaming aimlessly as he tried to make sense of the roiling emotions that were sweeping across his fëa. He still felt that he and Vairë had done nothing wrong in their encounter with Rushirithir, but now tendrils of doubt began to encroach upon his sense of rightness and for the first time he wondered if perhaps he had erred.
At last his feet brought him to the foot of a mountain, a volcano, that rose precipitously from the floor of the desert to pierce the sky. Without conscious thought he began to climb. It took some time to reach the summit, for there were steep cliffs to scale, but it never occurred to him to simply think himself there. Something within him demanded that he make this climb in hröa, however long it might take.
He eventually found himself staring down into a caldera complex of six overlapping craters, his sight piercing the stygian gloom into the very heart of the planet. Then he turned his gaze upward to watch disinterestedly as the stars made their slow march across the heavens. Two small satellites sailed above him, the closer one quickly disappearing below the horizon while its companion followed at a more sedate pace.
He sighed and crouched down, closing his eyes to listen to the silence that encompassed this world. It was mesmerizing and he could feel himself drifting. With a conscious effort he opened up a part of him that he had recently shut closed and reached out to the One Who was always there, ready to listen to His Children.
"I think I made a mistake," Námo said out loud, his tone meek and unsure.
*I think thou didst, too, my son,* came Atar’s voice, welling up from deep within him. *Perhaps thou and I should talk about it.*
He was weeping again, the tears splashing upon the rock and cooled lava flow where he sat on the lip of the caldera looking out across the expanse of the desert world. Varda’s stars glittered coldly above him with pristine indifference and he longed to fling himself into the heart of one of them and wrap himself around a nuclear core, but he did not. Atar would not let him and so he remained seated on the summit of the volcano and wept, his arms wrapped around his knees as he rocked himself, trying to find some comfort.
His discussion with Atar had been brutally honest and Atar had shown him where he had gone wrong. It was done lovingly but it still hurt and he felt himself flush with shame at his attempts at denial and all the while Atar calmly but with surgical precision stripped all illusions from him until he was left with nothing but the naked truth.
He had been wrong. They had been wrong. He was not sure how he... they could make it right.
*I created thee, my child,* Atar said at the last, *to be mine instrument of Justice in Eä, for there will be need for it because of the Marring. More importantly, however, I created thee for Mercy, for Justice without Mercy is merely tyranny writ large. Punishments should always fit the crime, but first there must be an understanding of just what the crime truly is before punishment can be administered. That is Justice. At the same time, though, there is a thin line between Justice and Vengeance. That is where Mercy comes into play. Seek Mercy, Námo, and Justice will follow, not the other way around.*
"They hurt me," Námo whispered forlornly, unable to get past that one thought.
*Yes, they did,* Atar agreed, *but why dost thou thinkest that what thou didst to Rushirithir be right and what he did to thee be wrong? Dost thou not see, child? There is too thin a line between true Justice and unlawful Vengeance. Thou hast not the ability to see all consequences of thine actions as I have. If there be a need for Vengeance, it will be mine to wield, for I will wield it with Righteousness. Thou, child, shouldst practice Mercy instead. That is thy proper sphere.*
"So what do I do now?" he asked.
*Thou canst not change what hath happened. Therefore, if thou wouldst redeem thyself in thine own eyes, thou shouldst offer thine apology to Vairë for leading her astray and to thy Máyar for abusing their trust of thee.*
Námo sighed. "Maybe Manwë was right. Maybe he should have demoted me to Máya status. I don’t think I’m truly fit to be an Ayanuz any more."
He could feel Atar’s gentle smile warming him from the inside out. *Child, thou shalt more truly be an Ayanuz in thy humbling of thyself and thine elder brother will recognize this.*
He nodded and rose to his feet. "I am sorry, Atar," he said contritely, "for everything."
*I know thou’rt, my son,* Atar said gently.
"I love thee, Atar," Námo whispered.
*And I love thee, child,* came Atar’s reply and Námo felt that love encompass him totally and unconditionally even as he unclothed and thought himself away.
Námo sought out Vairë first and apologized to her, then went in search of his Máyar. They were nonplused at the humility their lord exhibited but Maranwë spoke for all of them when he went to his knees and pledged himself to Námo again, his fellow Máyar following suit. Then, for good measure, Námo sought out each of his fellow Ayanuz and apologized to them as well, speaking to Manwë last and privately. When he left the Eldest’s presence, he appeared calm and more himself than he had in a long time. Manwë sent a fervent prayer of thanksgiving to Atar for Námo’s return and they all rejoiced that one whom they feared lost had finally been brought back to them whole.
Note: The mountain where Námo has his talk with Atar is Olympus Mons (Mt. Olympus) on Mars. It is the tallest known mountain and volcano in our solar system. The central edifice stands 27 kilometers (around 16.7 miles) high above the mean surface of Mars. It is 550 km (342 miles) in width, flanked by steep cliffs, and has a caldera complex that is 85 km (53 miles) long, 60 km (37 miles) wide, and up to 3 km (1.8 miles) deep with six overlapping pit craters. Its outer edge is defined by an escarpment up to 6 km (4 miles) tall; unique among the shield volcanoes of Mars [see Wikipedia for more information].
|<< Back||Next >>|
|Home Search Chapter List|